Four Tips for Active Listening to Triple Your Influence and Grow Your Business
December 15, 2022 | Written by Samuel Newland, CFP.
Listening is a crucial aspect of communication, and it plays a major role in building trust and influence in interpersonal relationships. Studies have shown that effective listening can lead to increased sales for salespeople, as well as stronger connections and better outcomes in various other contexts. While increased sales do not matter as a fee-only CFP, the ability to increase your influence so that a client listens to your recommendations does.
We may read a lot about truly listening or active listening, but what does that really mean? How is it defined? When we listen to someone, we are not only paying attention to their words, but also to their body language, tone of voice, and other nonverbal cues. This helps us to understand the speaker’s meaning, emotions, and intentions. In turn, this helps us to build trust and rapport with the speaker, as they feel heard and validated.
On the other hand, when we don’t listen effectively, the speaker may feel dismissed, disrespected, or ignored. This can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and a breakdown in trust and influence. If you are succeeding in active listening, you are experiencing a virtuous cycle. If not listening well, you are breaking connections.
One study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas found that salespeople who actively listened to their customers were able to increase their sales by over 200%. This was because the customers felt heard and understood, which made them more likely to trust the salesperson and to be influenced by their recommendations.
Another study, conducted by researchers at the University of South Carolina, found that salespeople who used active listening skills were also able to build stronger relationships with their customers. These stronger relationships led to increased customer loyalty and repeat business, as well as higher levels of customer satisfaction. And with all of that, one can only assume that organic referrals to your practice would grow as well.
In addition to its effects on sales, effective listening also plays a crucial role in building trust and influence in other contexts. For example, in a study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, couples who engaged in active listening during conflict resolution were able to improve their relationship satisfaction and reduce the likelihood of divorce.
In the workplace, effective listening can also lead to increased trust and influence among coworkers. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan found that employees who used active listening skills were more likely to be perceived as leaders by their colleagues. This was because their colleagues felt heard and understood, which increased their trust and confidence in the listener.
Overall, the science shows that listening is a crucial aspect of building trust and influence in interpersonal relationships. Whether in the context of sales, relationships, or the workplace, effective listening leads to better outcomes and stronger connections. So the next time you are engaging with someone, make sure to truly listen and understand their perspective, and you may be surprised by the positive effects it can have on your relationships and your success.
With that being said, here are four conversation techniques that can help demonstrate that you are actively listening:
1. Pay attention to the speaker’s words and nonverbal cues:
- When listening to someone, it is important to pay attention to not only the words they are saying, but also their body language, tone of voice, and other nonverbal cues. This will help you to better understand their meaning, emotions, and intentions. By paying attention to signals like their tone and body language, you can label these observations and help them feel understood. “It seems like that has to be really uncomfortable to feel uncertain about what you should do next?”
2. Provide verbal and nonverbal feedback:
- As the speaker is talking, provide verbal and nonverbal feedback to show that you are listening and understanding. This can include nodding your head, making affirmations, asking clarifying questions, or summarizing what the speaker has said.
3. Avoid interrupting:
- It is important to let the speaker finish their thoughts before jumping in with your own. Interrupting can make the speaker feel dismissed or ignored, and can disrupt the flow of the conversation.
4. Reflect on what the speaker is saying:
- After the speaker has finished talking, take a moment to reflect on what they have said. This can help you to better understand their perspective, and can also show the speaker that you have been listening and considering their words. Ideally, after you summarize what they have said, they respond with, “That’s right!” That is a green light that they feel completely understood.
Overall, these conversation techniques can help demonstrate that you are actively listening. And with active listening, you can improve interpersonal communication and outcomes with business and personal relationships and grow your practice.
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